Let's take the A-Train: An all-purpose series thread

Besides the successful completion of a scenario earning you a trophy next to that scenario in the scenario selection list, I am not currently aware of any other external incentives for A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism. Each difficulty level has its own unique trophy to earn; either a bronze, silver or gold trophy as shown on the difficulty selection screen. The scenario list will show the highest difficulty level that a scenario has been completed on.

A-Train PC Classic did have Steam Achievements, in addition to the trophy system, to encourage mastering the game on the hardest difficulty level. However, it appears Nintendo doesn’t do achievements so that wasn’t possible for A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism on the Switch. Thus, the primary source of motivation for choosing Standard or Expert difficulty is intrinsic rather than extrinsic.

Though, showing off all your Gold trophies via a screenshot is certainly an option since it acts as a kind of three tier scoring system. Completing a scenario on Expert difficulty is going to require some mastery of the game, whilst clearing the whole game on Expert difficulty is a true accomplishment.

Keep an eye on Steam or Humble Bundle over the summer, as the series will likely go on sale during the Steam Summer Sale event. If you can handle the 2D sprite-based graphics, of the A-Train games currently available digitally on PC my recommendation would be A-Train PC Classic. Being the predecessor to A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism it has the most in common design wise, even if the precise implementation of gameplay features like Resource Trading can differ.

Upon booting up the game you should be able to freely switch between Japanese, English, Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese localisations via the fourth (right-most) button on the main menu.

For anyone not adverse to reading some localised English subtitles, Artdink posted their next video in a series of basic How-To guides. This time the topic of focus is all about bus operations.

Fortunately, I am lucky enough to have a power socket close by so I can play whilst plugged in charging. Handheld A-Train was not something I thought I needed in my life but yet here I am utterly engrossed in it.

I looked it up a bit, and it seems with a 10W phone charger and an USB-C cable, it should do the trick. I wasn’t sure where to plug the cable actually but now I know — I feel so old.

My first ever exposure to A-Train was when I was in my teens and played A-train III I think it was on an old 486. Quick google image search confirms it was A-train III. That game was HARD for younger me. I wanted to build big networks quickly, move goods around and feel successful. Then the first year would hit and I’d get taxed. What were taxes? Just some word that my parents flung around occasionally. The first year would be the beginning of the end for me, and I’d never manage to stay afloat.

I did buy A-train 9, but I haven’t spent much of any time with it. It just felt so devoid of anything.

Upcoming Steam sale and this thread might see me looking at PC Classic though. The art style is definitely my sort of thing, I just hope the simulation is just as compelling as I remember. The overall positive reviews on Steam suggests as much.

I know. And this would be fine, if we were allowed to transfer saves from one console to another without asking Mommy Nintendo for permission. We could do that on the Wii. I hate when functionality is removed in subsequent console generations…

Please have your tickets ready for inspection by the conductor and prepare to board today’s train, as our railroading adventure in All Aboard Tourism continues!

Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism - Expanding our railroad south-west to Nagashirojo…

Click to reveal

Continuing where we left off in our introduction to the game and scenario, today will be all about expanding our business operations south to the castle-town of Nagashirojo. Along the way will we discuss tourism, government subsidies, the associated costs of laying down new track, the associated costs of building a new station, the cost-benefit proposition of different station types, and finally the costs associated with remodelling existing stations.

Our personal assistant, Miss Matsushima, introduces us to the region’s sole tourist attraction, the reconstructed castle of Nagashirojo. This will serve as the nucleus for our business plans and will become a bustling hub of tourism in time as we expand our railway network. Though, Nagashirojo Castle isn’t the only thing of interest in this area, with the associated town liable to develop from all that planned tourist activity. Which translates to more local residents, equaling more potential local passengers, and one gigantic opportunity to make boost our revenue via real estate speculation and subsidiary businesses.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, let me introduce everyone to the Tourist Information screen. Here you can find a list of the region’s tourist attractions, the appeal rating (attractiveness) of each tourist attraction, how many tourists have visited each location so far this year, and the number of tourist visits achieved during the last fiscal year. Then we get a handy little graph showcasing the five-year trend for tourist visits and finish off with a region-wide summary of the number of tourists so for this fiscal year and what we achieved during the previous fiscal year.

We can gain some additional information by accessing the Tourist Route screen (pictured above). Here we will find a list of neighbouring regions, which map edge we need to construct transportation connections with to begin bringing tourists into our region, a rating of the neighbouring region’s city scale, and a visual summary of whether we have established any tourist routes between the neighbouring region and one or more of our tourist attractions. Fortunately for our business, Hasuoka is a rated as being a thriving Metropolis, highest rating in the game, and therefore will provide a large quantity of tourists. Finally, you can see that currently tourists from Hasuoka can only access as far as Enomori Station and cannot make successful trip to Nagashirojo.

Now dear reader, you might be thinking “Great, now let’s expand our railway services to Nagashirojo!”. However, before we boldly press forwards with our business plan it would serve us well to consult with the local government and assess what subsidies they are currently offering. As you can see the region is further subdivided into several districts, each having their own policies and subsidies. As we are relatively new to the region our relationship (company trust) with the local administration is currently low. Therefore, we may only take on one task (subsidy) at a time, however, as our trust rating increases so does our ability to accept multiple concurrent tasks.

In the near future, procuring the government subsidy for the construction of commercial type buildings in Nagashirojo Village might prove advantageous. The current advertised subsidy would give us back 95% of any land acquisition costs accrued during the construction of three or more commercial buildings within the Nagashirojo Village district. To successfully receive the subsidy we must construct at least three commercial buildings in the Nagashirohjo district by July 31st, 1993. Upon the successful completion of the task the local government will pay us the subsidy, 95% of what we spent on land acquisition costs, within a period of three months and gained increased trust in our company.

With no government subsidies currently on offer for the construction of railway track within either the Nagashirojo or Enomori districts, let us begin expanding our railway network. Currently, as you may remember, South Enomori Station is the end of our railway network. However, when we took over control of the region’s railway infrastructure we also gained an unconnected station in Tomoto. It would be prudent for us to connect our existing railway network to Tomoto Station via South Enomori Station. Which brings us onto the associated costs of laying track.

In A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism our company does not just pay for the material and labour costs of constructing the railway track. Oh no, first we need to purchase the land (right of way) we’re building upon if we don’t already own it. Which means the cost of acquiring right of way for our railway tracks varies depending on the land’s current value. In addition to this, the purchase of the land will incur taxes, dues, and handling fees. Fortunately, as you can see in the picture above, we currently already own a two-tile wide strip of land between South Enomori Station and Tomoto Station.

Currently, we do not own a connecting strip of land between Tomoto Station and the prospective site of Nagashirojo Station, as visualised above by the lack of a red hue on the tiles of land. Therefore, we will incur land acquisition costs during the construction of railway track between Tomoto Station and the soon to be built Nagashirojo Station. If for some reason we expect the value of the land to rise significantly before we build our track we could pre-emptively acquire the land through the Trade Land screen. However, this is unlikely to happen and therefore we can let the game acquire the land for us during the process of laying our new railway tracks.

The associated costs of laying track on land we already own between South Enomori and Tomoto, as pictured above. In contrast to the associated costs of laying track between Tomoto and Nagashirojo, where we don’t yet own the land being utilised, as pictured below.

Next we will begin construction of Nagashirojo Station, so that passengers will have somewhere to board or alight our planned train services. When constructing a station we receive a choice between several different station types and various different station buildings, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we will conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of our options to arrive at a decision. Ground level stations are one of the cheapest and easiest station types to construct and remodel, should we ever want to modify the station at a later date. Within this category exists station houses of various sizes and costs, with our list of options changing across time as new modern station houses appear and older station houses fade into history.

As pictured above, you can see that stations come with associated costs as well. Not only do we pay for the station house and associated structures (e.g., platforms) but they also incur ongoing operation expenses (e.g., maintenance). The better and larger stations often cost more to build and maintain of course. You may also have noticed that construction of stations requires both construction materials and the passage of a specific number of days. Consequently, rather than being built instantaneous stations will take some time before they become operational. In A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism construction materials can either be supplied by ourselves – something we will broach another day – or will eventually be obtained off the private market, akin to the building crew going out and sourcing the materials themselves.

Once we have chosen which station type and station house option we want it is time to confirm the location of our new station. During this process the game gives us a visual indication of the station’s catchment radius, whether passengers are within range of other stations or stops to transfer services, and critically whether the station is within walking distance of a touristic attraction for tourists. Here we will also decide upon the number of platforms to be built and the length of these platforms.

Platform length is an important consideration in the game when designing your station. Whilst trains that are smaller than the chosen platform length will operate without issue, trains that exceed the platform length of a station will be unable to load and unload all of their carriages. Therefore, we either want to plan ahead and build our station platforms to match our expected maximum train length. Or we can initially build a smaller station but acquire the land around it to ensure we have sufficient space for any future expansion.

After beginning construction of Nagashirojo Station we decide to double track the railway line all the way up to our connection with Hasouka. Therefore, we will need to remodel some of our existing stations to add a second platform to them. This is very similar to constructing a station, where the game will first ask us to chose the station type and station house we wish to use. Afterwards, we then get to adjust the number of platforms the station has and the platform length, which maxes out at eight tiles.

Since we used the Stations screen to access the remodel option, let’s revisit it to examine South Enomori Station in further detail. As you may notice in the picture above, stations not only allow passengers to board and alight but can also generate sales. True to real life, you can think of this being the station either leasing out facilities to other businesses like cafes or via vending machines, selling advertising space, and et cetera. Remember how I previously said that better and larger stations often cost more to build and maintain? Well the potential for a station to generate revenue from passengers is influenced by the type of station house chosen; with the larger, better station houses having a greater potential due to increased commercial spaces to rent out and so on.

Time to take a second to admire our work using the 3D view! We have extended our railway line down to Nagashirojo Castle, expanded the line capacity of our route from Hasouka to Nagashirojo by double tracking it, begun the construction of a sparkling new station at Nagashirojo, and remodelled both the South Enomori and Tomoto stations to add a second platform. That wraps up part two of Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism, do join me when we expand our rolling stock and tackle the tricky topic of train scheduling. Until the next time we met, have a safe journey aboard the A-Train!

I really appreciate the hard work you’re putting into these posts! If you had a Patreon, I’d subscribe.

I ended up restarting the first tutorial scenario last night, and I now have a double track running North/South connecting the two cities, and using the route planner, I have a series of trains running in a loop without crashing into each other. There’s probably a lot of optimization to be done in terms of scheduling, but at least it feels functional and not entirely slapdash like my prior attempts.

One question: is there an easy way of changing the number of cars on a train? Or do I need to sell the old train and buy a whole new one?

For whatever reason changing train consists is considered an advanced gameplay option in A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism. In contrast, A-Train PC Classic had it available out of the box as a standard feature. You just have to ensure that the train you want to change the consist of is currently stopped at a station, depot or lever frame.

While ordinarily the Advanced Settings tab is missing in the first tutorial, I think I discovered a workaround for enabling it. Save your game, then either begin a new game or load a save on any other scenario, open the System screen, access the Advanced Settings tab, scroll down to Change Formation and enable it, load back into your save game for the first tutorial, and hey-presto it should now be enable there too.

My newest challenge: I developed a new luxury train which I thought would be nice given the tourism focus in the scenario. But when I made the purchase and put it into service, I discovered that it was faster than the old model I used (of which I have six in service), which means that it constantly ends up stuck right behind another train, with only the leftover passenger scraps to pick up.

Does this mean I’m going to have to retire the entirety of my previous fleet; or set up a separate line for the other train type?

Well if you ended up successfully enabling the Change Formation advanced setting then time to dive back in using that exact same method to enable the Add Transit Settings option right below it. Once that is enabled in your game then we can setup a real simple fix to make your luxury train run at the same speed as your other trains.

Now go into the Operation Schedule and then Operating Route of your new luxury train. Next, we are going to navigate through the list and press the Y button on every on-map station, we can exclude the off-map ones like Hasouka. Once all the relevant stations have a white tick on a blue background next to them that means that any changes we apply will be copied to all those stations we have selected. This Y button function is oddly translated as Progress Freight for some reason when really it should say Copy Instructions, or something like that.

Now that we have set it up so that our change will be applied to all on-map stations on the operating route we are going to select a station using the A button to open the sub-menu. This will now have Direction and Speed Limit tabs in addition to the usual Departure Settings tab. Flick across to the Speed Limit tab and we are going to limit the speed of the luxury train to match that of the other trains on the line.

If you are running the suburban type trains with a max speed rating of Average and your new luxury train, a Limited Express type I presume, has a max speed rating of Fast then we want to set the speed limit of the luxury train along the route to Average. Thus, underneath each station in the list which is able to have a speed limit set, there should now be to the left of the distance and time measures a new symbol (red circle with two down-facing triangles inside). This informs us that a speed limit has been set for the journey to the next station along the operating route, and should be present along the majority of the operating route if our speed limit change was copied across.

If I remember correctly, operating route waypoints such as off-map stations and railway points cannot have a speed limit set and thus any speed limit setting the train is currently under continues to apply. This is why we didn’t bother selecting those waypoints earlier when we wanted to copy our speed limit setting across the operating route. Depots and Lever Frames are valid targets for setting a speed limit, if I remember rightly, but doubt you have any of those along the route.

Hope that makes sense and assists you! If you encounter any serious hiccups just go along the operating route for the luxury train and make sure a speed limit is set at every valid waypoint of the operating route. Making sure the speed limit setting matches the speed of your other trains, so they all travel at the same speed along the railway network.

Oh awesome! Thank you. I’ll give that a shot when I get home. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that there’s a speed limit option in the game…

blink blink

frantically searches ebay for a “cancel order” button

…because the digital version will allow you to play it right now, I assume?

If that sounded complicated when I write it like that, it really isn’t when you actually do it in game with it just taking a few seconds. It would have only took a couple of pictures to show off but then I’d have to load up the game, capture screenshots, post them to Twitter or transfer to a smart device, etc. There’s other methods one can utilise for railway networks which feature a mixture of trains with different max speed ratings. This was just the most applicable solution in this context.

Alternatively, you don’t have to operate lines with trains of different max speed ratings and so can never encounter that quandary in the first place. With one option being to plan ahead for this and copy the real-life segregation of conventional and high-speed rail traffic, having them operate on separate railway tracks.

But hopefully that was a good kind of searching for the “cancel order” button, haha.

Oh, I’m still looking forward to it! And I appreciate your in-depth explanations. They’re going to prove helpful if I can stay focused on this game…

Just in case the speed limit setting doesn’t carry across when a train travels from an off-map station back onto the map – late here and my memory may be wrong – then adjusting the departure time of the luxury train should be sufficient. In layman’s terms, make the train depart later to compensate for the quicker journey time.

Easy enough to figure out for a journey from Enomori Station to Hasouka and back to Enomori Station, for example. Look at the time it takes for the luxury train to travel from Enomori to Hasouka at restricted speed, then look at the time it takes to go from Hasouka to Enomori, and subsequently the difference between the two listed journey times is how long you want to delay departure by, or have stoppage time be, to maintain the desired train service interval.

I’m on a rollercoaster here, playing the tutorial for the… 3rd time in a year I think?
One day, I’m fascinated by the scope, the next aggravated by the interface.
I think I will just follow your recommandation, Malkael, and get the Classic PC version… Although maybe I’ll grab a 3DS instead!

I actually feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of the Switch interface. The new feature of being able to hold B to fully close out of the menu is a massive QOL improvement over having to tap it over and over to slowly back my way out.

The land acquisition is still infuriating me, as is the inevitable land sell that follows.

One of the things I love about this game–and a big part of why I like having it handheld–is that even though it can be very complicated, there’s very little sense of time pressure. It’s very easygoing. I like feeling like I can set it down (without pausing) and walk away for a bit without worrying that everything will fall apart and go to hell. The world keeps running along fine without my constant input.